Story of Gideon
For seven years the Midianites terrorized the Israelites. Israel would plant their crops and at harvest, Midan would sweep in from the East like locusts and consume the harvest and livestock all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. The once brave Israelites hid like animals in caves and dens in the mountains until the threat passed. Humbled, Israel cried to God for deliverance.
In Ophrah, a frightened farmer named Gideon was hiding in a winepress threshing grain in hopes that his efforts would be undetected. An angel of God greeted him as “a mighty man of valor”, a heroic warrior, and tells him God is with him. Even Gideon is perplexed by the greeting and wonders why he sees no evidence of God’s care, His great works of the past, to punish the Midianites. Instead of recounting the rebellion of Israel that brought oppression, the angel announces the resumption of these great works–under the leadership of Gideon. After countering that he is the least in his father’s house in the weakest clan of Manasseh, the angel answers:
And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” Judges 6:16
Though Gideon ask for assurance of God’s care through signs, he answers God’s call and breaks the Midianite domination over Israel. If you read about the fight in Judges 6 and 7, Gideon assembled and army but it is obvious that Israel won through God’s power.
The Strength in You
Sometimes we are discouraged and even frightened when we see enemies, spiritual and physical, around us. We are quick to discount our place in the world as Gideon did. And, like Gideon, we may even wonder if God has neglected us. When this happens, we are having a focus problem: we are focusing too much on ourselves and too little on God.
God Uses Weakness To Demonstrate His Strength I picked Gideon but there are many Bible characters who were mighty in God’s service despite weaknesses. When Paul asked that a “thorn in the flesh” that afflicted him to be removed, God gave this answer:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
What a powerful answer! Paul’s weakness would demonstrate God’s power! Even when we do have weakness, our Creator has the ability to recreate us in His image and demonstrate His power in us. The most important lesson we have to learn is it is not about us, it’s all about God.
God Gives Power To Those Who Serve Him Think of the nameless multitudes who have followed God and transformed the world. They took the gospel throughout the known world in the first century, and “turned the world upside down” with the message of Christ’s salvation. When we are tempted to think too much of our selves or to be discouraged because we do not feel we have much to contribute, we must remember that we are to be used in God’s service and He will accomplish His purposes with our without us. Even Paul realized that despite his great work, he was just a worker in God’s field and the increase, success, belonged to God, 1 Corinthians 3:5-7. How much better if we can be part of the plan and be useful in God’s service!
When Paul describes the Christian armor in Ephesians 6, he stresses that the power is not in the weaponry or armor but strength in the Lord and “the power of His might.” The Christian emboldened by God’s power can face any opposition with confidence. It is not arrogance or conceit but a realization that God can use us, like He used Gideon, despite our weakness because He empowers us with His strength. God never commands us to do anything that He doesn’t also give us the power to complete. Don’t worry about what you have to offer, take comfort in what God can do through you!
Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”